3 unique advantages of digital marketing for B2B organizations
Late Night with Larry: Volume 4
“Does digital marketing really work for business-to-business organizations?”
This is a question I’ve been asked many times by business leaders and decision-makers who aren’t convinced that digital marketing investments can move the needle for their organizations. Sometimes this uncertainty stems from unsuccessful past attempts to reach their target customers digitally, and other times it’s based more on feeling than fact.
Regardless of the reason, my answer is always the same: When it comes to B2B marketing, every company -- no matter its industry, size, goals, or budget -- needs to establish a digital presence immediately and prioritize its digital marketing strategy and capabilities going forward. The organizations that hesitate to embrace the digital marketing movement, as well as the slow adopters, will eventually get left behind.
The data backs this up. Gartner research found that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend the bulk of that time researching independently online. The amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%. Having quality information readily available via digital channels is critical if sellers want to influence customer decisions.
B2B companies that want to fuel organic growth and out-perform the competition need to get serious about digital marketing. But, like any investment, having the right strategy is critical to realizing a return on your efforts. Here are three unique advantages of digital advertising that B2B marketers should consider for a flourishing digital marketing program in 2021 and beyond.
1. Develop a hyper-focused audience strategy
A unique benefit of digital marketing is the ability for B2B marketers to talk directly to a specific target audience at scale and be strategic about how and when you reach them. Businesses have many opportunities to create meaningful and authentic connections by pairing sophisticated targeting with audience-specific content. For upselling existing customers, your CRM database can fuel segmented messaging using search and display advertising to show specific customer groups the benefits of services they aren’t currently leveraging. LinkedIn is a powerful resource for serving ads based on a specific account list or industry verticals. You can show ads or sponsor content in publications that influence your customers. The use cases are endless.
By segmenting your audiences and creating a messaging strategy for each one, your company can tailor content so it resonates with each respective group -- and be intentional about the timing and frequency of messages. This granularity is the future of digital marketing. And, for brands that invest the time to create granular strategies that address the specific pain points of different audiences, there is a real opportunity to differentiate from the competition. (For more on how we’re helping clients do this, check out my recent article here.)
2. Track performance and prove ROI
With the robust measurement capabilities available through digital advertising, marketers can test the efficacy of every tactic and continually improve. This is hugely beneficial for B2B CMOs and marketing leaders needing to justify a strategy or make the case for a larger budget to, for example, try a new approach or spend on better technology. The digital landscape affords B2B marketers the opportunity to learn quickly and fail fast. If you see high levels of engagement with one campaign or certain tactics performing better than others, you can shift your focus (and dollars) to drive those efforts and pull back from others. For example, you can measure how messaging across different business lines resonates with customers by looking at ad engagement, website usage, and lead generation; you can then use these insights to inform other marketing efforts.
At Rise, we’ve learned that to truly leverage analytics and use them to their fullest potential, companies have to take it one step further and do the math. In addition to looking at new leads, opportunities, and conversions, the ultimate goal should be calculating customer lifetime value, so that you’re able to predict the net profit attributed to the entire relationship with a customer. If you know the cost of acquiring a new lead and connect it to CRM data and subsequent marketing efforts, your business can use more sophisticated goals based on the expected lifetime value of each lead or opportunity. This level of analysis also informs what types of customers you should be targeting with your marketing.
3. Scale quickly and easily in a virtual world
COVID-19 has certainly changed our normal way of doing things. Face-to-face interactions and in-person events are few and far between -- and likely won’t resume for some time. Until a vaccine becomes widely available, we’ll need to continue finding creative ways to maintain socially-distanced relationships with current customers and attain new ones.
With digital marketing, B2B organizations can reach specific audiences with highly relevant messaging at scale. This blend of reach and relevance is very difficult to replicate with traditional marketing channels. This scale allows you to be where your customers are at a frequency and cadence that keeps you top of mind. Each digital channel has a different responsibility within the buying funnel, so businesses have the ability to pick and choose which tactics and assets to use based on what you’re trying to accomplish at each level. In other words, by taking an omni-channel approach to digital marketing, your company can use multiple tactics and multiple channels to reach multiple personas at the same time.
Historically, B2B marketing has taken a back seat to its B2C counterpart, with smaller media budgets and less attention paid to strategic planning. But, as the digital marketplace expands, we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the number of companies prioritizing their efforts to reach and start conversations with business customers just as they would a consumer. For the first time, as companies are realizing the benefits of investing in dynamic and full-throttle marketing to reach business prospects, B2B marketing has a seat at the table. No longer throwing darts to see what sticks, digital marketing has ushered in a new era where organizations of all types can take a directed approach and generate real returns. It’s money well spent.
I’d love to hear from you -- tell me what you’re doing in the B2B marketing space. Send me a message so we can continue the discussion.